Human civilizations arose about twelve thousand years ago, and before that date, man was a hunter-gatherer par excellence, as there was no other way to obtain food but to go out daily in groups, some of which took on the task of hunting, and the other of which collected fruits and roots. This was not the best way to provide food for the tribe, as the hunters did not always succeed in catching prey, and in those cases, they were content to eat the food collected, and then go to rest, until they saved enough energy for a new hunting day, so rest was a necessity to survive.
The human race has evolved a lot since then, and instead of going out into the world to get your food, the world comes to your doorstep, bringing delicious food with little effort. This may lead you to think that rest is no longer necessary for human survival. If you run out of energy for any reason, all you have to do is reach out to your desk drawer, and eat the piece of chocolate hidden there, simply like that! This saving in energy and time was supposed to push us to move more, but reality had a different opinion.
Despite the severe and increasing warnings (1) about the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle that prevails in many countries, such as being overweight, heart disease, high pressure and high cholesterol, you may find it very difficult to get off the couch and go to the gym, or Even park the car a little further from your destination, so you don’t have to walk the extra metres, what is the reason for this behavior that may not seem reasonable?
This question was what prompted a group of researchers at the University of British Columbia, led by the French scientist Matteo Puigente , to find an explanation for what they called the “exercise paradox”. This led them to believe that modern humans are still programmed to conserve energy as their ancestors were doing.
To test this theory, Matteo and his team put a group of 29 young people in front of a computer, gave them control of an avatar on the screen, and displayed a set of images that indicate activity or rest, one at a time, then asked them to direct the character toward the images of activity, and away from the activity. Pictures of resting, then doing the opposite, while recording what is happening inside their brain using an EEG.
The results came to the effect that the participants were more quick to direct the personality towards images of activity, and to move away from images of rest, than the opposite. At first glance, you might imagine that this means that the majority of participants prefer physical activity over relaxation, but the EEG readings were surprising, as they indicated that the brain makes a greater effort to stay away from images of rest, which prompted researchers to conclude that the human brain is programmed to prefer rest and laziness over activity and work. .
The past is not just a story we read before bed, but it may be a key to reading the future. This is what researchers at the American University of Kansas relied on (2) when they decided to study the mollusks at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, in an attempt to understand the reason behind the survival of some of them and the annihilation of others. Chances of survival of these organisms for generations to come. The study relied on measuring the basal metabolic rate (BMR) (which expresses the amount of energy an organism needs to survive) of the mollusks that currently live on the ocean floor, and then compared it to their extinct ancestors.
You can expect that the results were also amazing, what the study concluded is that mollusks with a higher metabolic rate did not survive extinction, unlike those with a lower metabolic rate, which managed to survive for more than five million years, supporting the hypothesis that Survival is not for the fittest, but for the lazy. This theory may apply to the inhabitants of small depths, but it may be different in larger organisms, such as the hominid ancestors of Homo erectus.
A group of researchers at the Australian National University (3) set out to excavate in the Arabian Gulf to extract fossils of the first humans from the site of Safaqa in Saudi Arabia, and deduce their way of life from studying the tools they made in the early Stone Age, and the findings of the team led by Dr. Siri Shipton was very exciting, as the team found that the type of stones used to make tools for the inhabitants of the area from “Homo erectus” was inferior compared to those made in later eras, and they found on a hill not far away a better type of stone, but they were More lazier than climbing a hill and getting it.
The study, published in the journal “Plos One”, concluded that it was not only their failure to search for better stones, but also their inability to adapt to climate change in the region, after the rivers in which they lived dried up and the Gulf turned to an arid desert area. The study concluded that these factors may have led to the extinction of Homo erectus in that region, in addition to being a lazy creature unable to adapt to its surroundings with greater flexibility, unlike modern humans (Homo sapien).
In the midst of his interest in human evolution, specifically how he was physically active and how the environment changed around him, Daniel Lieberman (4), chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at the prestigious Harvard University, reached several conclusions that sparked some controversy in 2016. Lieberman noted in his long years of work Nature tends to prefer laziness to activity, for although man, a hunter-gatherer, used to do more physical activity than we do now, his movement was an absolute necessity for his survival.
Our ancestors did not have the luxury of going for a walk just for fun, because this was an unjustified waste of energy, but the suffering of modern man is that there is no adaptive necessity to move him, he will not starve if he stays on the sofa all day because food has become accessible, but his body has It begins to gradually collapse. Lieberman believes that the issue is supply and demand. If activity becomes required, the muscles must respond by raising their efficiency and increasing their size to meet this call, and vice versa.
You may have noticed that muscles that don’t work much inevitably become atrophied, as if your body shuts down its non-working organs to provide energy for other organs. The same theory applies to the efficiency of the heart and blood vessels, where the arteries harden and the efficiency of the heart muscle decreases, and the effect extends to the bones as well, as calcium stops depositing inside them and becomes brittle with a lack of physical activity.
What Lieberman is trying to say is that man is programmed to be lazy out of energy conservation, which is the supreme goal of your body cells to keep you alive, and that the diseases of the age caused by sluggish life may be reversible by increasing demand again, that is, by increasing physical activity And the best way to do this is to turn heavy physical activity into a socially likable activity, as our ancestors used to chase prey in groups and get rewarded for their efforts together in the form of a delicious meal, and then get some rest afterwards.
Perhaps Russell did not realize all this when he published his article “ In Praise of Laziness ” in the American magazine Harper’s, October issue of 1932, but his views were revolutionary by the standards of his time. To achieve this, some – slaves – had to work a lot so that the masters could relax and devote themselves to creativity. In order for the rich to maintain their position, it was necessary to invent the “virtue of work.”
Despite the end of the slave age, the “virtue of labor” continued to place workers in the status of slaves again. Russell wrote that the number of daily working hours could be cut in half without affecting productivity or the well-being of society, as was proven during the First World War when half of employment withdrew From the normal jobs to work in espionage and the manufacture of weapons, without affecting the availability of bread.
But instead of everyone working a little each day, and everyone living in happiness and prosperity, half of society is working overtime, while the other half ranges from unemployment to a life of convenience. What Russell wanted to say 90 years ago is that laziness is a virtue only if it is equally available to all.
Today, the virtue of work is still loud, and perhaps this is what makes you feel guilty for staying lying down doing nothing, or what motivates you to exhaust yourself at work or activity, and between this and that, you can create a healthy balance that protects you from extinction like our lazy ancestors, It protects you from the diseases of the era that kill many who live around you now.